Friday, May 29, 2015

Review: Batman Vs. Robin

Batman Vs. Robin is the next entry in the popular series of DC Animated Original Movies is set to arrive at retail this coming Tuesday. Entitled Batman vs. Robin, the new film is essentially a sequel to last year's Son of Batman and, once again, it delivers by stepping things up in every possible way.
This feels likes a completely different film. Unlike past DC animated films, Batman vs. Robin is not directly based off any one story, but rather a combination of Grant Morrison's run on Batman and the phenomenal Court of Owls book by Scott Snyder. While neither of these had anything to do with each other, veteran comic writer J.M. DeMatteis combined both tales in such a way that everything just worked.

Picking up a few months after the events of Son of Batman, this new film sees Bruce’s son Damian trying to adjust to life with a father that dissuades killing, something the young boy is not used to, given his past life growing up alongside his grandfather Ra’s al Ghul. The movie opens up with the Dynamic Duo squaring off against the demented Dollmaker. This sequence gives fans a nice look into the different ways both heroes approach the war on crime.

As the film progresses, it is evident that a rift is forming between father and son and, seeing an opportunity, the Court of Owls moves in. 

In the film as in the comics, the Court of Owls are a monolithic secret society comprised of Gotham’s elite. The group operates from the shadows and has been pulling the strings of all that goes on in the city for countless generations. However, they have no use for a masked vigilante getting in the way of their planes for Gotham. Thus, while trying to court Bruce Wayne into joining their ranks, they want his alter ego out of the way at all costs.

To accomplish their mission, the Court attempts to seduce Robin to their side by using an agent known as the Talon, who also had a strained relationship with his own father. It soon becomes evident that the mysterious individual clearly cares for Damian and wants to help him. Thus, a tug of war develops between both Batman and the Talon that gives the film much of its weight.

The Court of Owls makes a great transition from printed page to silver screen. They give the film a rather cool edge and prove tat they have taken their place in history as one of the Batman's most iconic foes.

With Batman vs. Robin serving as a sequel to Son of Batman, the new film features many returning voice talents. Jason O'Mara and Stuart Allen are back as Batman and Robin respectively and, while they may not be the familiar duo of Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester many fans have become used to over the last twenty years, they have certainly made the roles their own and have become the animated Dynamic Duo for a new generation.

David McCallum is back as Alfred with Sean Maher also returning to voice Nightwing. Joining the returnees are Jeremy Sisto as Talon, "Weird Al" Yankovic as a rather creepy and unsettling Dollmaker, Grey Griffin as Samantha and Kevin Conroy as Thomas Wayne. Each has had experience with the DC Animated Universe, in one form or another, and each brings that experience to the table to offer a stellar performance that only adds to all that is sleek and cool about the movie.

In addition, the action sequences are some of the best we've seen in a DC Animated Original Movie. Director Jay Oliva (Young Justice, Batman: Assault on Arkham) returns and is able to walk a rather fine line between brutality and gore, giving fans a very well-staged, beautifully animated addition to the DC Animated Universe canon.

While we thoroughly enjoyed last year's Son of Batman, we feel the sequel was a step up in all areas. From better voice acting, crisper animation, and plenty of bone crunching action, Batman vs. Robin does everything right and has easily become one of the best entries in the DC Animated Universe.

This one does a great job respecting the source material, this despite the fact that a few details are omitted. While we would have preferred to see a final product that more closely resembled the definitive Batman art of the great Greg Capullo, we honestly have no true gripes about this one and feel it's a film all Bat-fans will enjoy to the full.

Batman vs. Robin is all kinds of right ad is a step in the right direction for the DC Animated Original Movie canon. Here's hoping the powers that be over at Warner Bros. see what Oliva has done here and gives the man the opportunity to finish off this series of films in the way they deserve.